9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN33 Women's and Gender Studies

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Gender, Work and Organisations Building II, C4.01

Economic restructuring and the nature of things From industry to the care sector, working-class women in rural areas undergoing industrial decline

The modifications of the socioeconomic system can be extremely harmful for some categories of workers, such as working-class women living in rural areas undergoing industrial decline. The economic reorganisation acts as a massive push towards expanding the local care sector, frequently offering workers precarious and low-paid jobs identified with the feminine caring role. In spite of living this precarisation, the ideas of a feminist revolt appear far away from the worker's daily preoccupations. In this proposed paper I will present a comparative analysis of women's experiences of precarisation and of the activities within the care sector in France and Italy. I argue that heteronormativity, as inscribed in the composition of families and in the public and private gender labour division, plays a role in shaping the legitimacy of the socioeconomic transitions. Within a broader reflection on women's relationship to the local economy, I will then investigate the gendered dimensions of the socioeconomic transformations, which are connected to the reorganisation of the global neoliberal system. How do global socioeconomic transformations find their legitimacy? What refrains the examined category of workers from openly resisting such harmful orders? On the basis of a qualitative fieldwork research among precarious working-class women, living in the rural de-industrialized French and Italian territories, I will illustrate the dynamic of subjective experiences and subjective representations of the personal and local socioeconomic transformations. I will argue for the centrality of naturalisation and for the strategic synergy of multiple personal, local and g-local naturalisations, on which the relative acceptance of the global economic transformations relies. The paper will propose an analysis of the interweaving of subjective representations of, on the one side, working-class women's labour life, and on the other side, global economic transformations. I will focus especially on the idea of femininity emerging from the experiences of precariousness, as well as on the women?s interpretation of the economic crisis. My analysis shows the centrality of locality and of the articulation of multiple naturalisation processes, which are gendering the global transformations and help shape the process of "becoming a g-local working-class woman".